The Barossa offers everything you’d expect from Australia’s most famous wine region. Winemakers waiting to share their secrets at the cellar door; landscapes etched with manicured vineyards; passionate food producers proffering their wares at country markets; and grand chateaux surrounded by ornate gardens. And it’s all just an hour from Adelaide.
The region owes much of its appeal to the European peasant farmers and English free settlers who made the place home from the 1850s. You’ll get a taste of their rich cultural legacy in superb Barossa specialty foods, dozens of festivals and events, historic architecture and inspiring arts and antique galleries.
Take a winery tour in a limousine or vintage car, or float above the valley in a hot-air balloon. Wake up in the Barossa after spending the night in a restored settler’s cottage, a resort suite, a luxurious country house or a shady caravan park. Sample German wursts and cakes in heritage bakeries and butcher stores as you follow the Barossa’s Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail. And get right into the swing of things at one of the 100 events making up the biennial Barossa Vintage Festival.
Home of Australian Wine
Drive among vines tended by the region’s 500 grape growing families (many sixth-generation). Stop at tiny boutique wineries where top drops are sold out within weeks of their launch. Have your photo taken beside the real Jacob’s Creek. Visit the new $5 million Wolf Blass Visitor Centre, or any of the 60 sensational cellar doors with household names like Peter Lehmann, Henschke, Seppelt, Yaldara and Yalumba.
What’s a wine region without a chateau or three? The divine buildings and grounds of Chateau Yaldara house a new cafe and larder; the magnificently restored Chateau Tanunda has a gorgeous cricket oval and croquet lawn, and is also home to the Barossa Small Winemakers Centre; Seppeltsfield, one of Australia’s grandest wine chateaux, began life as a dairy in 1851; and Chateau Barossa’s parklands feature more than 20,000 rose bushes of more than 2000 varieties.
Marvel at the magic of Maggie Beer, one of Australia’s favourite cooks and writers, and a pioneering champion of Barossa regional cuisine. In her Farm Shop near Nuriootpa, you’ll find Maggie’s gourmet products and award-winning books, and enjoy great coffee and lunch overlooking the lake.
See the patchwork of vineyards and farms from the lookout on Mengler Hill. The many spires that punctuate the landscape remind you just how important worship was (and still is) to the Barossa community. The road continues as the scenic route to Angaston. Mengler Hill Lookout is located east of Tanunda and west of Angaston.
Rise and shine with the Barossa Farmers Market, held every Saturday morning from 7.30am to 11.30am and boasting “real food from the homes and farms of the Barossa”. Located just behind Vintners Bar & Grill near Angaston, it’s a food-only market reflecting the heritage and traditions of the region.
The Barossa has a calendar of events large and small. The biennial vintage festival celebrates the harvest in every town. Barossa under the Stars features a top international performer (past stars include Rod Stewart, Elton John) and fine local hospitality. And the Barossa Gourmet Weekend unites cooks, chefs and restaurants with wineries to present the best of each. Search for Barossa events on our events listing.
Whisper sweet nothings on the Whispering Wall, just outside the quaint little town of Williamstown. An engineering marvel, the wall is a perfect ellipse and allows messages whispered at one end to be heard 140m away at the other. Built in 1902, the wall is 39m high and the top concrete section is reinforced with old tram rails.
A drink to good health
The Barossa presents a tidy, pastoral landscape dotted with German and English-style villages, churches and chateaux. It’s easy to explore and accommodation ranges from luxurious colonial mansions (with dinner, bed and breakfast) to historic settlers’ and miners’ cottages, small motels and fully serviced caravan and tent sites.
Restaurants (and there are many) vary from country-house hotels to modern bistros and rural cottages. Shops sell delicacies such as venison, blutwurst, mettwurst, leberwurst, bratwurst, sauerkraut and German pastries made to traditional recipes.
Driving is easy in the Barossa and distances are short. Visit the 350-hectare Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park, about 10 kilometres east of Tanunda. As well as river red gum trees, golden wattles and silver banksias, it’s home to many rare and threatened species. Kangaroos, possums and echidnas live with some 70 species of bird, including wedge-tailed eagles, robins, honeyeaters, parrots and finches. Walkers delight in the Heyson walking trail which passes through here, while cyclists pedal the Mawson cycling trail.
A feast of festivals
The Barossa – less than an hour’s drive north of Adelaide – is Australia’s major premium wine-producing region. Blessed with hot dry summers, loamy soil and reliable winter rains, the Barossa produces about a quarter of Australia’s total vintage. Here, 60 wineries nestle alongside villages like Bethany, a German settlement founded by Lutherans in 1842 and mapped out along Prussian lines.
Tanunda (population 3,000), the valley’s cultural heart, displays mementoes of the valley’s German heritage in its museum. The town offers offbeat attractions such as Norm’s Coolie Sheep Dog Performance, with 28 handsome collie dogs and a large number of sheep. Mengler Hill Lookout at Tanunda provides sweeping views over most of the Barossa. Even better views are available on the balloon flights that operate every day, weather permitting. The Barossa Wine Centre tells the story of the valley, its people and its culture. It’s part of the Barossa Information Centre, which serves 70,000 visitors a year and is open seven days a week.
The rollicking Barossa Vintage Festival has been held every two years since 1947. You can tread on grapes at sunset, wave at scarecrows in vineyards or watch festive floats trundle down Tanunda’s main street. Tens of thousands of visitors attend more than 100 events throughout the festival, which includes everything from mushroom hunting and grape picking to comedy acts, a festival ball and fair.
Cellar doors and company stores
A good introduction to Barossa is the Lyndoch Bakery, where you’ll get a good taste of the European influences on the region. From Lyndoch there is an endless choice of attractions and wineries, including no less than 60 cellar doors. Highlights include the Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre – which pays homeage to Orlando Wines’ most successful global brand – and the wine and roses of Chateau Barrosa. Nearby you’ll find the Grant Burge cellar door and Rockford Winery, a boutique winery producing high quality traditional wines.
The town of Tanunda is a delight – take a stroll to soak up its historic charms. Recommended wineries on the outskirts of town include Chateau Tanunda, Peter Lehmann Wines, Richmond Grove and Langmeil Winery. Travel through Seppeltsfield along the imposing avenue of date palms and climb the steps to the Seppelt family mausoleum, which sits on a hill and provides wonderful views over Seppeltsfield. Seppelts Winery, one of Australia’s most magnificent wineries is set within extensive grounds and faithfully preserved buildings.
Heading back towards Nuriootpa take in Barossa Valley Estate and Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop before visiting Penfolds, one of Australia’s biggest wine producing companies and the Barossa’s largest winery complex. Near Nuriootpa you’ll also find the Wolf Blass cellar door, celebrating the life of this iconic winemaker and his wines enjoyed the world over.
In Angaston, visit Angas Park Fruits and the South Australian Company Store to select some of South Australia’s best dried fruits, jams, preserves, chocolates and sauces. And if you’re visiting on the weekend, don’t miss the Barossa Farmers Market, held every Saturday in Angaston. And finish off the trip with a visit to Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery.
Home of Australian wine
Blessed with an ideal climate and soil, the Barossa has become one of the world’s great wine-producing areas. Its 500 grape growers and 80 wineries produce about one quarter of Australian wines. It started in the 1840s with the arrival of hard-working German peasant farmers and middle class English settlers with a dream of a ‘country gentleman’s lifestyle’.
Self-sufficiency was important and along with an appreciation of fine music they used centuries-old traditions in winemaking, smoked meats, preserved fruits, cheeses and handicraft.
The community flourished and today the landscape is an artist’s palette of delightful small towns, stone buildings, churches with pipe organs, orchards and vine-patterned hills. The valley breathes of vintage wineÂ in autumn, stone fruits in summer and log fires in winter. Wander among the galleries and craft shops to the tantalising aromas from delicatessens, bakeries and cafes brewing freshly ground coffee. Take a special tour from Adelaide for a day, or stay in one of the beautifully maintained stately homes, cottages, farmhouses, hotels, motels or a bushy hideaway with sites for caravans and tents.
Visit a lavender farm or learn about mohair and alpaca, and working sheep dogs. Festivals to celebrate ballooning, vintage, music and the joys of life are exuberant affairs with gourmet food and wine and rousing music. Visit the winemakers who love to chat about the history of their families, some going back six generations on this land.
- Wine Tasting